COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio voters will get two Saturdays
but no Sundays or evenings to cast early, in-person ballots during the
statewide election this fall under a schedule set Tuesday by the state’s
Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican,
said his directive for voting times reflects a proposal from the
bipartisan Ohio Association of Election Officials. He has pressed state
lawmakers for the past three years to put the hours and days for early
voting into law, but the GOP-controlled Legislature has not adopted any
"I have watched as numerous election laws have passed the
General Assembly and yet the bipartisan plan I have advocated for has
neither been introduced nor adopted," Husted said in a statement.
Residents of the swing state can cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person without giving any reason.
legislation establishing early voting times, Husted said he used the
blueprint hours from the Republicans and Democrats who run local
elections in Ohio’s 88 counties.
For the general election, local
boards would not be open for in-person, early voting after 5 p.m. on
weekdays and would be closed on Sundays — a change from previous years.
directive drew criticism from the Democratic candidate who is vying for
his job this November, state Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland.
Turner said elections officials need flexibility to set times that work for their voters, not
is no justification for arbitrarily denying the vast majority of Ohio
voters’ access to open polling places," Turner said in a statement.
2012 presidential election cycle in Ohio was marked by several disputes
over early voting rules, including a lawsuit brought by President
Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
Still, about 33 percent of
the state’s voters cast an early ballot in the last presidential
election, with the majority choosing to vote on Election Day. Close to
1.3 million Ohioans mailed or dropped off their ballots to local boards,
while more than 600,500 residents voted early in person.
office plans to mail absentee ballot application forms to all
registered voters again this year, as they did for the 2012 contests.
Voters can expect to see other changes to election rules this year.
Gov. John Kasich recently signed into law a bill to eliminate the
so-called golden week, a period when residents can both register to vote
and cast an early ballot.
State lawmakers have been weighing
other adjustments to Ohio’s election law, including a proposal that
specifies when provisional ballots should be counted.
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